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ROUNDTABLE: Who is your spring athlete to watch?

The Lake Show makes several appearances on the list.

Photo by BMB Media Works, LLC

Winter sports may not be done yet, but the spring season is ramping up just as fast. Between softball, baseball, lacrosse, golf or tennis, there are so many great athletes that we want the chance to spotlight. Here are some of our favorites that we’ll be watching over the next few months:

Gavin Dorsey: Madison Taylor, Midfield, Lacrosse

After the graduation of Lauren Gilbert, the Wildcats need a secondary option to step up alongside Izzy Scane. Look no further than first-year Madison Taylor, who’s already started her collegiate career hot. Taylor has notched 10 goals in the team’s first three games, including five in the opener against Syracuse, and already looks the part of a future star in the making. She leads the ‘Cats in shooting percentage, and is currently second on the team in draw controls. Moving forward, as teams start to key in on Scane, Taylor should continue to be a crucial piece of the Northwestern offense.

Bradley Locker: Michael Farinelli, RHP, Baseball

Jim Foster’s tenure as Northwestern baseball head coach did not begin as anticipated, with a very lopsided sweep at Texas State. Nonetheless, the Wildcats should still claw their way to some Big Ten victories — and if they’re to do so, the team will need to be anchored by starter Michael Farinelli. Last year, the grad student led NU with a 4.43 ERA and 1.39 WHIP while throwing a lofty 87.1 innings. Though he doesn’t strike out many, Farinelli’s ability to be efficient, get soft contact and go deep into games will be pivotal in a retooling year on the diamond.

Iggy Dowling: Kelsey Nader, OF, Softball

On a team that entered the season with national title aspirations largely because of the top-end talent it retained, Nader has been a great addition. Through eight games, the first-year outfielder has already emerged as one of Northwestern’s key offensive contributors, posting an OPS north of .820. Even better, most of her best performances have come against tough opponents; Nader’s 2-for-2 showing with two walks and a game-tying single in the Feb. 10 win over No. 6 Texas comes to mind. It will be interesting to see how Nader will continue developing and if she can become an X-factor for one of the most experienced teams in the nation.

Jason Boué: Izzy Scane, Attack, Lacrosse

The Scane Train is about to leave the station and everyone should be on board. After a leg injury derailed her 2022 season, the grad student is making her triumphant return to the lakeshore and she means business. She has scored 19 goals and dished out five assists through Northwestern’s first three games, all of which were against top 15 teams. A 100-goal (or more) season is certainly on the table, and the Tewaaraton could be hers come May. This is your official notice.

Andrew Neville: Molly Laliberty, Goalkeeper, Lacrosse

Following the departure of veteran Madison Doucette, Kelly Amonte Hiller hit the transfer portal and brought in Laliberty to be the last line of defense for the Lake Show this year. She comes to Evanston after a decorated career at Division III powerhouse Tufts, where she twice was named IWLCA Division III Women’s Goalie of the Year. After a slow start in the opener against Syracuse, Laliberty seems to be getting well acclimated to Division 1 competition, making 24 saves in home wins over Notre Dame and Boston College.

Ethan Segall: Danielle Williams, Pitcher, Softball

While part of me is inclined to say Boo Buie, as Northwestern basketball looks to play well into March, he technically is not a spring athlete. Even if he was eligible, Danielle Williams might be my answer regardless. Any time the reigning (unanimous) Big Ten Pitcher of the Year takes the mound is appointment viewing. Coming off a legendary season where she posted a 2.09 ERA and struck out 333 batters en route to a 31-6 record, Williams is back for her final season in Evanston. Despite a rocky start to the season, Williams looks primed to break several program records this year, cementing her as Wildcat royalty.

Margaret Fleming: Erin Coykendall, Attack, Lacrosse

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Erin Coykendall dish a no-look, behind the back pass at the speed of light. The senior recorded the most assists on the team last season and came third in goals, and shows no signs of slowing down in 2023. She scored a goal and made at least one assist in all three games this year. Her style differs from other teammates who strike quickly and forcefully by charging at the goal; she quietly surveys the field with her high lacrosse IQ and directs the ball somewhere unexpected. Keep your eyes peeled for some sneaky, highlight-reel passes and goals all spring season.

John Ferrara: Steve Forman, Singles, Tennis

As a senior last season, Forman spearheaded the Wildcats’ run to a second-round exit in the NCAA tournament. After choosing to return for his final year of eligibility, Forman has only looked more dominant. Now ranked No. 50 by the International Tennis Association among all singles players in college, Forman has proven he can hang with anybody this year. Wins against a bevy of top 100 players this season has only helped his standing, and the grad student’s high-level play projects to continue as Northwestern’s schedule eases from now until the NCAA tournament starts in May.